By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
Thousands of Baptist churches will be focusing on missions all across North America on these dates, praying for specific missionaries, including Rob and Annabeth Wilton in Pittsburgh, Pa. The Wiltons have Tennessee ties. See story.
Then, on Easter Sunday, or even before, Southern Baptists across the nation will collect the annual Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. The national goal for 2020 is $70 million. Every dollar of the AAEO goes to train, resource and deploy thousands of missionaries who serve as church planters or in compassion ministries.
Through the combined gifts, Southern Baptists are making a difference in North America by meeting needs, planting churches and discipling new believers. According to the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board, “transformation is taking place one life at a time.”
The theme for this year’s week of prayer is “It’s All About the Gospel” and is based on I Corinthians 15:3-4 (CSB): “For I passed on to you as most important what I first received: that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. …”
Supporting missionaries is not a new concept for Southern Baptists. The first offering for North American missions was taken in 1895 by Woman’s Missionary Union. The name was changed to honor legendary Southern Baptist missionary Annie Armstrong in 1934.
Millions of people in North America, which includes the United States, Canada and the territories of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam, have heard the gospel because Southern Baptists give sacrificially through the Cooperative Program and the AAEO.
According to the NAMB, approximately 363 million people live in North America and a projected 75 percent of these people do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
NAMB leaders also point out that “the spiritual needs in North America remain as great as ever” as the demographics continues to change and the culture becomes more secular. According to NAMB, entire regions in the United States that “once were bastions of Christian thought, such as New England, are now deemed post-Christian.”
The North American Mission Board not only seeks to change the lostness in North America through church planting, but also to share the gospel through ministries targeted to reach refugees and internationals, assist those in poverty, reach out to those caught in human trafficking and to serve children through foster care and adoption.
Just as we pray for our own missions offering in Tennessee (the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions), we need to support missions efforts throughout our continent and nation.
Pray for our North American missionaries, not only during the Week of Prayer, but year-round. They are making a difference for Christ.